Last fall it had seemed like a privilege when I was elected chairperson of the Spring Fair committee for Davenport High School. Since I was only a sophomore it seemed like my fellow students were giving me a vote of great confidence. Then I read the financial reports and discovered the last three chairpersons had ended up paying some of the bills from their own pocket. I was surely screwed.
We had seven hundred and twenty students at Davenport and if they each brought a friend, their family or even a distant relative we stood to make almost three thousand dollars. And that was a mighty big "if," we could also lose a lot more.
Between the rides, the games and the prizes I had committed us to spending three thousand two hundred and twenty-three dollars to stage the event. It was a huge number to a guy who had fifty bucks stuffed in a shoe box under his bed.
As if I didn't have enough trouble already, my star attraction had just dropped a bomb on me. Wendy Nichols, the beauty queen of the Tri-County area, cancelled on me. I had put her in charge of the kissing booth, assured that it would be a big money maker with her behind the counter.
But Wendy had been ill…read that as three months pregnant. She had confided in me this morning that she would be unavailable to kiss a single pair of lips. It seems she would be out of school for a few days and that meant a trip north to some clinic where "things" could be dealt with quietly. I went home and banged my head against the wall.
Just to remind me of what a failure I was about to become there was a message from my co-chair Brenda telling me our professional photographer had backed out too. What a shame, the Drama Club had spent a considerable amount of time painting several backdrops for the period photos. We would have made five dollars a head posing people in costume on a western street, or the fantasy scene with the big fuzzy teddy bear.
I liked the bear scene the best. The six-foot tall painted animal was meant to be a female with a big pink bow on her head and a large lollipop in her paw. I wanted my picture taken giving the bear a big kiss; it would have been quite a laugh. I looked at the drawings the painter had submitted which were sitting on my desk and the idea came to me.
Why not kiss the bear? Why not spread the rumor that Wendy was behind the bear? A few minor alterations, a hole cut just so...yes, it would work. But who would do the kissing? I knew the answer even as the question formed in my head, it would have to be me.
Now you might think that a sixteen-year-old boy would be averse to kissing other guys...but not me. Last year I had discovered something about myself. I was one of them. Davenport was a small school but amongst the male student population there were there were three boys who were quite different. I knew the other two gay boys, they didn't know about me. It was not a role I was ready to openly accept quite yet.
I went into my sister's room and stole a tube of her cherry flavored lipstick. Then I cut a three inch oval in a piece of notebook paper. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror I glossed my lips and puckered up through the hole. All I saw were red lips, my identity was hidden…this was going to work…maybe.
All day in school before the big Saturday event I heard people tell me they were coming. I was so nervous I couldn't eat lunch so I sat there at a table with a few of my cohorts and listened to the cafeteria buzz. I watched as several of the football jocks made their approach to my table.
"Hey, Farnsworth, I hear Wonder Woman Wendy is going to sell kisses tomorrow, is that true?" the large fullback named Benny asked me.
"Uh…yep, best lips in three states," I offered. But it was Charlie Evans our star quarterback I was staring at. I had been looking at him all year…he was beautiful enough to die for. In fact I would be quite dead if he even thought I was queer for him and that made it all the more appealing.
Charlie smiled down at me and said, "We sure are looking forward to getting some of that. I think the whole team is coming tomorrow so tell her to keep those lips warm."
The rest of the day was a haze, my brain going into overload from fear and anticipation. My troops were all geared up to work tomorrow and everything was in place, well…except Wendy. I prayed for divine intervention and rubbed aloe on my lips.
This could work, it better work…Oh Lord, it had to work or I was a dead man.
I had rearranged the photographer's tent, taping the kissing booth sign over the door. The bear painted on the cloth hung across the width of the space and fortunately the red and white tent fabric muted the light inside a good deal. I had replaced the bear's lips by cutting out a three inch oval which I taped like a flap on the back of the cloth…no one could see who was behind the fabric.
I posted a sign that read, "Kiss the bear and make her growl, $ 2.00 donation required." My friend Brenda thought it was a crazy idea but I convinced her that the mystery would bring us more customers. So who was I kidding, just putting Wendy and all her assets out in the open would have drawn the boys like flies.
Ten o'clock and the fair officially opened. I looked over Brenda's shoulder and said I saw Wendy coming. As she turned to look I dropped the roll of tickets on the ground and it proceeded to unwind all over the place. I apologized for the mess and ran to fetch our kissing star.
I told Mark I would be helping at the refreshment stand, I told Bill I would be with Mark…you get the picture…everyone thought I was someplace I was not. No, I was trying to calm my quivering knees as I slipped in the back of the tent and zipped up the door. I had a cooler of water for my parched lips, my cherry lipstick and a box of breath mints. It was time to do or die.
The morning went about as expected and I kissed eighty-three boys, half of them younger than me. I heard the expected grumbling when the customer discovered they couldn't see "Wendy" behind the cloth. Others talked dirty to me and one guy even tried to grope me through the cloth. He wasn't very cute so I kicked him in the shins.
Most of them I kissed nicely, a mere peck on the lips. And then I would growl and they would laugh. If I felt a tongue dart out and try to come my way I would growl a warning, it seemed to work. But the afternoon session would be my real test…the football team would be waiting their turn.
At noon Barry had the band start playing which was our cue to close the booths for an hour. I almost forgot to wipe the lipstick off in my hurry to exit the tent, but I rubbed a wet towel across my lips until all the red came off. Unzipping the tent I ducked out and walked casually around to the front.
"Oh there you are," Brenda said, "Wendy has been real busy, eighty-three so far. Where is she?"
"Bathroom break," I lied. "Saw her heading for the locker room just as I came over. Well, gotta go, time to restock the soda cooler."
I was just heading for the bandstand when I caught a glimpse of the footballers coming in from the parking lot with Charlie right up front. I ducked into the crowd around the music and cut behind the bleachers to avoid them. I ran into Mr. Barnes, our principal, standing on the edge of the crowd with two small kids beside him.
"Good show you have here, Jeremy," he said to me as I passed.
"Thank you, sir," I called back but I kept moving.
I went into the cafeteria to see if Bill needed help with the sodas. We iced a few hundred more cans and Bill said we probably sell them all before the day was over. That was good news, they were pure profit.
I thought I'd better use the bathroom before my time ran out so I headed down the hall. Pushing open the door I ran right into Benny and three of the footballers combing their hair.
"Hey, Farnsworth," Benny said and then he got an evil glint in his eye and came towards me. I backed up against the sinks and he leaned into my face. "You haven't been kissing Wendy, have you? I don't want to kiss lips that have touched your wormy little mouth."
"Uh…no Benny, I haven't kissed her at all," I stammered. The big knucklehead was showing off to his friends. He was repeating his senior year and if he flunked again then he would be in my class. I shuddered…didn't want to think about that.
The door opened right then and Charlie stepped inside. My white knight had arrived in the nick of time.
"What's up, guys?" he said. Turning to me he smiled again, "Hey, Jeremy…you have Wendy all warmed up for us?"
"Uh…she's been working hard all morning," I said. The guys whooped at the innuendo and Charlie laughed.
"Well tell her I'm coming. I have a five dollar bill that says she is gonna kiss my lips off."
I swallowed hard and my knees began to tremble again. I ran out of the bathroom to the sounds of their laughter trailing behind me. I couldn't do it, this was too much pressure. I would just tell them that Wendy was sick. Yeah, I could say she was throwing up, who would kiss her after that?
Shit, it would sound like she had morning sickness, which was probably true at this point. Damn, I couldn't do that to her, the rumor would spread and she would hate me. Aw hell, I was stuck.
I saw Brenda again, dodged her and ducked into the back door of the tent. A few minutes later Brenda stuck her head in front and said we had customers. I growled in response and she giggled.
The first few guys were the normal customers, one with terrible bad breath. Then in ones and twos I started getting the footballers and learned a very important lesson, things were not as they seemed.
These blustery muscle bound boys were in awe of kissing Wendy and it showed in their manners. Like little meek lambs they spoke softly to her and kissed tenderly, every one of them thanked me…uh, Wendy by name. How sweet, I was touched. And then Benny arrived.
It was a meeting of two bears…he really tried to paw me through the cloth. I didn't dare kick him in the shins, I'd get booted back. No, instead I slapped the cloth just about where I judged his crotch to be. I felt something give…I figure it was his balls. Benny groaned and I growled, he left holding his nuts.
If Benny had been here then where was Charlie? God, he was beautiful. That shaggy blond hair, his T-shirt stretched across his muscled chest and bound tightly around his biceps. He was my favorite fantasy, the unreachable star.
Another guy, another dollar, I gave my passions away for the money. The title of my book would be, "I Was a Cheap Whore for Davenport High" and John Waters would direct the film. I kissed and growled, drank some water and ate half the mints but still no Charlie.
I was just kissing some short kid who had to stand on his toes to reach my mouth when a strong pair of hands grabbed my waist and lifted me off the ground.
"Hey, Jeremy…got any kisses for me?" A voice whispered in my ear. It was Charlie Evans.
A hand covered my mouth and another grabbed the waistband of my boxers and pulled, giving me a wedgie. I struggled but Charlie was just too strong for me…and then the darndest thing happened. His mouth was pressed against my ear once again and I heard him sigh.
"Guess you like kissing guys and that would be very interesting to a lot of people. But that might cause you severe damage and that would be unkind."
I could smell his cologne and then his lips kissed my neck. What was going on here?
"I paid your girl out front five bucks and she says I can have ten minutes alone with you…Wendy. So what do I get for my money…this?"
He took his hand off my boxers and turned me around, pressing his lips to mine…and I went into shock. He kept his lips glued to me and I yielded as his tongue slid into my waiting mouth.
I put my arms around his waist to keep from falling over backwards and felt him trembling…and then it hit me. Oh Lord, Charlie was…the fourth boy and very much in the closet. Davenport High would never believe this, but our precious time was slipping away.
Our lips parted and Charlie grinned. "Smile, Jeremy…I like it when you do that. Come see me at the Steak House after work tonight, okay?"
"Wait…Charlie…how did you know?"
"I'm the one who knocked up Wendy…I paid for the visit to the clinic." He looked me in the eye, a harsh gaze. "I'm a jock, Jeremy, I have to date girls…it doesn't mean I like it. See you tonight?"
I nodded my head, oh yes, I would be there. He gave me a deep growl and I laughed, I had been the one kissing a bear. He ducked under the cloth and strode proudly out the front door. I heard him whoop it up outside, Wendy's reputation was intact and so was ours. The band started playing their final set and I relaxed…the fair was over.
We went seven dollars and thirty-nine cents over budget so we really didn't make any money for the school. Principal Barnes would laugh it off as a great learning experience but I wasn't laughing at all. No, I was hungry…and looking forward to a nice steak dinner.
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